Will NFV deployments require a new class of IT technology to support such implementations? The jury is still out, but if it does then a Japanese consortium led by NTT believes it may have a solution.
NTT Group (NYSE: NTT), the Japanese unit of Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), and Fujitsu Ltd. (Tokyo: 6702; London: FUJ; OTC: FJTSY) have collaborated on the development of a distributed server technology specifically designed for NFV that comes with a tongue-twisting abbreviation -- VNPaaS (Virtual Network Platform as a Service). (See Japan Group Demos New Server Platform for NFV.)
And the trio haven't developed this on the off-chance it might be of interest to others: The specifications meet the requirements of a "use case" designated by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) NFV Industry Specification Group (ISG). As a result, the VNPaaS proposition, which is due to be demonstrated in Okinawa on May 14, has been approved as a Proof of Concept by the NFV ISG.
So what is VNPaaS? Basically, it's a distributed server platform that, the trio claims, has the "reliability, scalability, and management" to meet the needs of telcos implementing virtual functions. NTT has provided input on the network operator requirements and the details of the proof of concept, Alcatel-Lucent Japan has provided the vendor's CloudBand IT platform for virtualization and management/orchestration, and Fujitsu has provided middleware to deliver the required scale, reliability, and maintenance support.
Why this matters
If this group gets it right, this could be a significant contribution to the NFV community's developments.
The big challenge for NFV is not sourcing virtualized functions -- there are plenty of those on offer from the vendor community -- but being able to manage and control virtualized functions once deployed, with Management and Orchestration (MANO) a major focus for all parties on the operator and vendor sides. (See Analyst: SDN/NFV Succeeds or Fails on Management.)
A key part of that, of course, is the underlying IT hardware, and there are many differing views about whether off-the-shelf server hardware is "carrier-grade" enough to support NFV deployments, whether more costly NEBS-compliant servers are required, or whether a new breed of server hardware, operating system and software (optimized for NFV) is needed.
Others are working hard at this too, particularly industry consultant Tom Nolle and the companies associated with the CloudNFV initiative that is currently being led by Dell Technologies (Nasdaq: DELL), and which includes Overture Networks Inc. (See Overture Trials NFV Software With Hidden Punch, Analyst: Transformation Must Be Top-Down, and Dell Has Big NFV Plans.)
— Ray Le Maistre, , Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading